Sean Hannity in Trouble with Fox and Cumulus?
Earlier this month, reports surfaced that both Hannity and Rush Limbaugh would lose 40 stations if they are dropped by Cumulus. This week, more reports surfaced that Megyn Kelly would replace Hannity in the coveted 9 p.m. time slot on Fox News.
Hannity, the number two talk radio host in the nation, had a tough road to be where he is. In The Right Frequency he describes himself as “born to argue.”
Below is an excerpt on Hannity’s career from The Right Frequency.
Though he sort of came up on it by accident, Sean Hannity
managed to make a good living from what he’s just naturally done
his whole life. “I was born to argue,” he once said. “I don’t know
why. I mean, from arguing with my teachers and, on occasions, my
parents. I think I’ve mastered the art of argument at a fairly young
age.”704 He has used that gift to soar to the number two spot on both
talk radio and cable news, and has done what both Limbaugh and
Beck could not do, maintain a huge following on radio along with a
longstanding TV presence.
The Iran Contra affair may have been the low point for the otherwise
successful Reagan presidency, but it gave Hannity the opportunity
to do what he loved with an audience to listen.
When allegations that the Reagan administration had sold arms
to Iran in exchange for hostages, and used proceeds from the sales
to illegally fund the Contras in Latin America, the Senate—controlled
by Democrats after the 1986 midterms—leapt to investigate
the matter. The main witness prompting the must-see TV moment
at the time was Lt. Col. Oliver North. Hannity heard the senators
haranguing North, and routinely called into conservative talk shows
to give his two cents.
Hannity was never a fan of handouts. In the late 1980s, he was a
contractor, painting houses, because he did not want to rely on his
parents to pay for his tuition at New York University. He dropped
out and headed west to California, continuing to work in construction
to save enough money.
“I was a contractor. I was working my way in and out of college.
Didn’t want my parents to help pay for college. So, I’m, I’m running
out of money all the time. So, that’s how I was making my living and,
I’d be 40 feet up in the air on radios, calling into talk shows,”
Hannity, who grew up on Long Island and continues to live there
today, recalled in an ABC News interview.
“The things I had to say began attracting more feedback,
spurring more people to call, until sometimes I was getting bigger
response than the host,” Hannity wrote. “Before long it dawned on
me that I ought to be on the other side of a microphone as a host
rather than a caller.”
“People say, ’I want to talk to that guy that just says what he just
said, because I loved what Ollie was doing’” Hannity recalled.707
His course in life was set.
“I’d grown up listening to Bob Grant, Barry Gray, John Gambling
and Barry Farber,” Hannity wrote. “That experience taught me early
on that a passionate argument, well made, could make a difference,
even if the person was speaking as a private citizen.
He volunteered his commentary at radio station in KCSB-FM,
the station for the University of California- Santa Barbara. It was
not a good fit, as the station did not like his politics after he
expressed opposition to homosexuality at a liberal university.
Reportedly, a lesbian caller to his program said she had a baby after
being artificially inseminated and Hannity responded he felt sorry
for her child. The university fired him, or at least banned him from
volunteering, for supposedly “discriminating against gays and lesbians.”
Interestingly enough, the ACLU Foundation of Southern
California came to Hannity’s defense. The university backed down
and told Hannity he can have his airtime, but at this juncture, he
didn’t want it.
“I was too conservative, the higher ups said, and they didn’t like
the comments one guest made on the show. So much for free speech
on a college campus!” Hannity wrote. “The station was dominated
by leftwing public affairs programs, including a gay and lesbian perspective
show, a Planned Parenthood show, and multiple shows that
accused Reagan and Bush of being drug runners and drug pushers.
The leftwing management had a zero tolerance policy for conservative
points of view and I was promptly fired.”
The northeasterner left the West Coast to go south. A talk radio
show opened up at WVNN Huntsville, Alabama in 1989 for $19,000
per year that he took, “because they gave me a microphone.” He
occasionally did a local TV debate show with liberal David Pearson,
whom Hannity described as a “fierce defender of the left.”
“When I got there, the first thing I discovered was that my New
York accent—which I never even noticed—didn’t go down easy in
the south.” But he said, “I tried to connect with callers. I read everything
that I could get my hands on, scouring newspapers and magazines.”
The program took off and was a spring board to Atlanta’s
WGST-AM, a top 10 market. Hannity moved to WGST in 1992—
as talk radio was on the verge of becoming a powerful political force
—to replace the legendary Neil Boortz, who had jumped to WSBAM.
However, because of a no compete clause in Boortz’s contract,
Boortz could not go on the air for several months on WSB. Hannity
used this time to build an audience. And it worked due in part to
Hannity became the top rated show in Atlanta, and often interviewed
Georgia Congressman Newt Gingrich, the House Minority
Whip. Then, the ultimate opportunity came when he got to be the
guest host for the Rush Limbaugh Show on a few occasion, giving
him his first national exposure. After that, he was brought on as a
conservative pundit for CNN’s Talk Back Live. Roger Ailes, then
head of CNBC, liked him so much he brought him on for a few
shows on that network. He also got other TV appearances on
popular 90s talk shows hosted by Phil Donohue, Sally Jesse Raphael
and Geraldo Rivera.
When Ailes took the job running the new Fox News Chanel in
1996, he hired Hannity in September of that year to do a debate
show with New York liberal radio show host Alan Colmes. It was to
be the Fox version of Cross Fire, the long time Left-Right debate
show on CNN.
Tags: Barry Farber, Barry Gray, Bill Clinton, Bob Grant, Conservative movement, Conservative Talk Radio, Cumulus Media, Fox News, Iran Contra, Megyn Kelly, Oliver North, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Talk RadioYou can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.